UFC 171 prelims headliner Kelvin Gastelum vs. Rick Story turned into a war. | Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
Kelvin Gastelum cleared another serious hurdle in his Ultimate Fighting Championship career.
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17 winner eked out a split decision over Brave Legion welterweight Rick Story at UFC 171 on Saturday at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Two of the three judges gave the undefeated Gastelum the nod: 29-28 and 30-27. A third saw it 29-28 for Story.
Gastelum (8-0, 3-0 UFC) paired a stinging right jab with a powerful left hand, staggering Story more than once and leaving visible damage below his left eye. The 29-year-old Story (16-8, 9-6 UFC) made his move in the second round, where he rocked his counterpart with a left hook and floored him with a straight left. Round three was closely contested, as Gastelum fought through the Washington native’s clinches to score a takedown, only to see Story spring a reversal and transition to his back. Ultimately, Gastelum moved back to top position and returned to his feet, cracking Story with another thudding left.
Prospect Andrade Outduels Pennington
Aggressive and sustained striking flurries spurred Brazilian prospect Jessica Andrade to a split decision over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 18 semifinalist Raquel Pennington in a preliminary women’s bantamweight bout. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28, two of them siding with Andrade (11-3, 2-1 UFC).
Pennington (4-4, 1-1 UFC) spent almost the entire fight in reverse. Andrade scored with a pair of first-round throws and marched forward with punches, walking through counters from her opponent. Pennington threatened with a standing guillotine choke in the second round but did her best work in the third. There, she delivered a pair of takedowns, tuned up some hammerfist-laden ground-and-pound and swarmed with punches after Andrade stood. However, it was not enough to turn the tide fully in her favor.
Relentless Bermudez Stops Hettes
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 finalist Dennis Bermudez dispatched Jim Hettes with a third-round knee strike in a preliminary featherweight duel. Hettes (11-2, 3-2 UFC), who had never before been stopped, succumbed to an accumulation of punishment 2:57 into round three.
Bermudez (13-3, 6-1 UFC) was relentless. The surging 27-year-old Saugerties, N.Y., native bullied Hettes with takedowns and stifling clinches, all while mixing in damaging close-quarters punches and knees. Bermudez had the AMA Fight Club standout reeling in the second round -- he sent Hettes’ mouthpiece flying at one point -- and put him to bed in the third, extending his current winning streak to six fights.
Garcia Edges Spencer, Wins Sixth Straight
Tristar Gym’s Alex Garcia leaned on takedowns and power punching bursts in earning a split decision over Sean Spencer in an undercard duel at 170 pounds. Two of the three cageside judges scored it for Garcia by 29-28 and 30-27 counts; a third saw it 29-28 for Spencer.
Garcia (12-1, 2-0 UFC) struck for takedowns in all three rounds and survived a harrowing exchange in the second frame, where Spencer wobbled him with a searing right hand and followed it with a head kick. The Dominican-born Canadian bounced back to drop Spencer with a right hand of his own, but neither man could string together enough offense to author the finish.
A winner of six consecutive bouts, Garcia battled through a spent gas tank down the stretch. The 26-year-old secured a pair of third-round takedowns and briefly mounted Spencer (11-3, 2-2 UFC), locking down the victory.
Newcomer Trevino Outpoints Forte
Macaco Gold Team’s Francisco Trevino kept his perfect professional record intact, as he captured a unanimous verdict over “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” Season 1 graduate Renee Forte in a preliminary lightweight encounter. Trevino (12-0, 1-0 UFC) swept the scorecards by identical 29-28 marks.
Forte (8-4, 1-3 UFC) saw his best chance at victory come and go in the first round, where he consolidated a takedown by moving to the Mexican muay Thai stylist’s back. Trevino dodged the bullet and let his skills do the rest against the Brazilian. Standing elbows, knees in the clinch and multi-punch combinations slowly turned the tide, as fatigue took its toll on Forte. Trevino also mixed in his share of takedowns, ensuring a successful Octagon debut.
Unbeaten Scoggins Overwhelms Campuzano
Takedowns, ground-and-pound and an array of kicks to the head, body and legs carried unbeaten American Top Team prospect Justin Scoggins to a lopsided unanimous decision over Will Campuzano in an undercard battle at 125 pounds. All three cageside judges arrived at the same verdict: 30-27 for Scoggins (9-0, 2-0 UFC), who replaced the injured Darrell Montague on short notice.
Outside of a second-round guillotine choke, Campuzano (13-6, 0-4 UFC) was a non-factor. Scoggins transitioned seamlessly between his standup and grappling, as he kept the onetime Legacy Fighting Championship titleholder on the defensive for a majority of their 15-minute encounter. The 21-year-old South Carolinian rattled Campuzano with a pair of head kicks in the first round and grounded him repeatedly over the final two frames, assaulting him with punches and elbows from the top.
The 27-year-old Campuzano still has never won inside the Octagon.
Strickland Choke Submits McDaniel
Undefeated former King of the Cage champion Sean Strickland submitted “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17 quarterfinalist Bubba McDaniel with a first-round rear-naked choke in a preliminary middleweight clash. A replacement for the injured Tor Troeng, Strickland (14-0, 1-0 UFC) finished it 4:33 into round one.
Counter right hands set an early tone for the promising 23-year-old newcomer. Strickland struck for a takedown, softened the Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts export with ground-and-pound, moved to his back and cinched the choke on the transition. McDaniel (21-8, 1-2 UFC) had no choice but to tap out.
Whiteford Notches First Octagon Victory
Scottish judoka Robert Whiteford won for the 11th time in 12 appearances, as he recorded a unanimous decision over former two-division Legacy Fighting Championship titleholder Daniel Pineda in an undercard scrap at 145 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it for Whiteford (11-2, 1-1 UFC): 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
Repeated takedowns and kicks to the legs and head buoyed Whiteford in the three-round affair. The 30-year-old American Top Team representative landed the most significant strike of the bout midway through the second round, staggering Pineda (18-11, 3-4 UFC) with a head kick that also opened a cut near his right eye. Outside of a pair of attempted kneebars, Whiteford kept the Texan neutralized for a majority of the match.
Pineda, 28, has lost four of his last five fights.